HOW TO APPLY
The American College of Sofia hires international teachers on a two-year contract. The minimum qualification is a content area major from an accredited college or university. While we prefer teaching experience, we will occasionally hire a person who has outstanding content knowledge and some experience working with youth. More often we hire a person with some teaching experience and/or a teaching credential.
The American College of Sofia typically hires international teachers through search agencies such as Search Associates and at well-known international hiring fairs such as the University of Northern Iowa Fair and fairs that are sponsored by Search Associates. We also accept applications by e-mail. Typically, our list of available teaching positions is finalized early in January. However, we do post positions as they become available.
We try to complete our hiring during the teacher recruiting season in late January and February.
AFTER YOU’RE HIRED
The visa process in Bulgaria is long and complicated and you must begin to collect documents soon after you are hired. Luckily, the international teachers have Tanya Assenova, the registrar at the College, to help us through it. Tanya processes all of our documents, fills out our forms, and takes us to the various governmental offices to make sure we get the right things stamped. With her help and hard work, the long and complicated process is pretty easy for us.
The most important thing to do during the process is to follow Tanya’s instructions and, especially, meet her deadlines. You’ll receive these instructions shortly after the hiring process is completed. One of the most time-consuming parts of the process is simply gathering all of the documents you need, which include birth certificates, marriage certificates (if applicable), diplomas and transcripts from higher educational institutions, and an FBI criminal history check. Once you have these, just follow Tanya’s instructions.
Our salary schedule, while at the low end of the range for western European international schools, goes a long way in Sofia and the Balkans. International teachers receive an excellent international health insurance plan and an adequate life insurance policy. Housing is provided at no cost to teachers. Newly hired teachers begin orientation activities during the third week of August.
TEACHING AT ACS
The American College is the premiere secondary school in Bulgaria and admission is competitive. In the experience of almost all the international teachers, the students here are among the best you are likely to encounter. While there are a handful of foreign nationals among the student body, the vast majority of students are Bulgarian. They enter as 8th graders and spend a year immersed in English study to prepare them for classes in the upper school. At the end of their 8th grade year, students are expected to be prepared for a high school curriculum taught almost exclusively in English. They continue to have ESL support as part of their 9th grade English curriculum, and there is an English Language Center to provide further support to any students who need it.
At the end of their five years at the College, Bulgarian students receive both American and Bulgarian diplomas. (International students follow the IB program.) They are motivated, smart, and work extremely hard to meet the demands of both programs.
A full-time teaching load at the College consists of 21 40-minute periods. This leaves a substantial amount of time during the typical teaching day for planning. In addition to teaching, every teacher serves as an advisor to a small group of students, and there are ample opportunities to engage with students outside of the classroom. As part of their responsibilities, all teachers are expected to serve as faculty sponsors for clubs or CAS activities, or as coaches in the athletic program. There are also ample opportunities for leadership positions (department chair, grade level dean, etc.), which are stipended.
Teachers at the College are expected to engage in professional development, which is supported through book studies, in-service activities, and financial support for individual professional development projects. Departments at the American College are collaborative and collegial, and new teachers can expect robust support from their department chairs. Teachers can also seek support from the Faculty Development Coordinator, a full-time position devoted to the observation, support, and improvement of teachers’ classroom practices.
ACS School Profile
LIFE IN SOFIA
International teachers at the American College are provided with housing, consisting of furnished one- or two-bedroom apartments on- or off-campus. The on-campus apartments are located in houses on a beautiful wooded area of campus. The off-campus apartments are located a short distance from the College, and teachers can choose either to walk (it’s a little over a mile) or to take a bus (a 10-minute ride). The off-campus apartments are also located near a newly-opened Metro stop, which provides very quick access to downtown.
In both the on- and off-campus apartments, new teachers can expect to be welcomed by a warm, close-knit community of professionals with widely diverse interests. There are often informal social gatherings in the evenings and on weekends, and outings are frequent, whether to a restaurant for the evening or to Greece for a weekend.
Sofia is very much a city of transitions, and its tumultuous history is visible in the architecture of the center, which mixes Turkish, traditional Bulgarian, Soviet, and modern European styles. New teachers are sometimes surprised by how modern and European a city Sofia is, with a large and thriving cultural scene. There are endless events to attend, and multiple festivals for music, dance, design and film, all of which are accessible to English-speakers.
While there are a few creature comforts (brownie mix, Reese’s peanut butter cups) that are nowhere to be found in Sofia, there are plenty of familiar shops to visit in the malls. There is a large hypermarket near the College, where most teachers do their regular grocery shopping—though many teachers also brave the famous outdoor “women’s market” downtown, or frequent the fruit and vegetable stands that are plentiful throughout the city. There is a Carrefour and, as of 2012, an Ikea, both of them easily accessible. There are many technology stores, including Apple resellers and an Apple service center. English books are relatively plentiful in bookstores downtown, though if you are looking for a particular, non-classic title, you’re likely to be disappointed. Most international teachers have invested in e-readers.
Sofia is ideally located for travel, with all of Europe, Turkey and North Africa in easy reach. The Sofia Airport is a very short taxi ride from the College, and teachers frequently travel over long weekends. And, if you want company, you’ll never be at a loss for travel partners.
In general, Sofia is a dynamic, exciting place to be, and the cost of living is low enough (the lowest in the EU, in fact) to allow you to take advantage of what it offers.